The sleek, ultracompact Canon Powershot SD1100 IS brags 8.3 mega-pixels of resolution and image stabilization (IS) technology. Canon is pushing the SD1100 not just as a camera, but as a fashion accessory.
The camera is available in five colors: "Rhythm & Blue," "Swing Silver," "Pink Melody," "Bohemian Brown," and "Golden Tone" (I thank Canon for not sending me "Pink Melody").
While the variety of color schemes might be a draw for younger crowds, the camera also comes with appealing technical features like enhanced face detection technology, motion detection technology, and a variety of useful shooting modes. All of this is available for just over $200.
Face Detection Technology: You Better Be All Smiles
The camera's integrated face-detection technology is designed to recognize people's faces in your photos and adjust white balance to enhance skin tones. It also has an option that tracks your subject's face so you do not lose them if they move around in the frame. When using this feature, I found it difficult to lock onto someone's face if they weren't smiling. I also noticed that this function didn't work as well if there was a large amount of backlighting, or if I wasn't directly in front of my subject. In my opinion, using the auto-focus assist beam is a superior method for setting the right focal length.
Macro Mode: Up-Close and Personal
I was extremely impressed with the Canon SD1100's macro focus mode, which allows users to take highly-detailed photos of small or up-close subjects. I took the photographs below at the same distance (two inches) from my shoe. See the difference in the shoes detail when taken in macro mode versus the blur when not. The macro feature is easy to access and use; it's a simple as changing modes on the camera.
|Auto Mode||Macro Mode|
What most surprised me about the SD1100 was the quality of the camera's digital zoom. In the past, I have been vehemently against using the digital zoom in cameras because it is "fake zoom," a digitally manipulated blow-up of the image that breaks down the resolution of the photo and typically results in a loss of quality. This little wonder of a camera allows you to digitally zoom up to 12 times with minimal loss to resolution. In fact, at the greatest zoom, photos from this camera will print just fine at sizes up to 20 x 30 inches. This camera has changed my mind about using digital zoom in newer cameras.
|Widest Angle Lens (38mm Equivalent)||3x Optical Zoom (114mm Equivalent)||12x Digital Zoom (456mm Equivalent)|
Motion Detection Technology: Not So Fast!
If you've ever tried to take a photo of a high-intensity sports game, hyperactive children, or precocious pets, then chances are you've ended up with a blurry, disappointing photo. Canon's motion detection technology is another attempt to eliminate this problem.
The SD1100's motion detection technology calculates your subject's movement and selects the optimal exposure and ISO settings in order to reduce blurring. I tested this feature by heading out to a busy street at dusk to see if it could clearly catch cars in lower light situations without a flash. The camera performed fairly well, but I found nothing to brag about. When using the AUTO ISO mode, the pictures still came out blurry. I switched the camera to HIGH ISO and the images were better, but not perfect. I had to pan with the subject slightly to make sure the focus mode captured the cars.
Canon's Shooting Modes Provide Artistic Accents
Utilizing the SD1100's "Color Accent" mode allows the user to choose a particular color to emphasize in the scene. The camera filters out all other colors, turning them black and white, so that only the color you selected comes through in the final photograph. While this is a very cool feature, users have to be careful that they aren't accidentally highlighting unwanted objects of their selected color. Anything with the selected color shade is highlighted. For example, if you were trying to isolate a red rose, you might also pick up the subtle reds in a person's skin tone as well.
|Auto Mode||Color Accent Mode (Highlighting Red)|
The "Color Swap" mode allows users to swap one color for another by using the camera's digital view finder and selecting the two colors to interchange. While Canons website shows a photograph of little leaguers wearing blue jerseys seamlessly color swapped to display them in red jerseys, you may not get the same kind of flawless swaps they display. If the tones are not exactly the same across the photograph, you will not get an entirely accurate swap.
For instance, if a shadow is cast across a portion of the original color, it can create subtle differences in the color that won't be "swapped" with your new choice. If the colors are close in tone, like blues and grays, you might not see much of a difference in your photos. For best results, you should experiment with the way your scene is lit before taking the photo. While it's a handy feature to have in the SD1100 IS, truly accurate and advanced color swapping is probably best achieved with photo-editing software.
Overall, this pocket-sized camera does an excellent job. I've found that the camera is functional in different lighting environments and reacts quickly. The start-up time is nearly instantaneous, and even when operated under demanding conditions, the delay between shots is minimal. When I used this camera in a low-light situation (in auto mode), capturing a shot took less than three seconds. Photos taken at higher ISO settings (1600), where image noise can become a nuisance, were not overly grainy, and the image stabilization helps significantly in low light situations and when using longer zooms.
The Canon Powershot SD1100 IS keeps pace with the competition and is an excellent choice for a casual photographer interested in something with a little versatility and a little style.